Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Year in Review: The Best Wildlife Encounters of 2017

A peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) flies over the rooftops on the Sunshine Coast.

2017 was a great year for adventures in the bush and encounters with incredible wildlife! Here’s some of the creatures, places and events that made an impact on me, and in some cases, the entire region:

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Bulimba's wildlife surviving in suburbia

Small-leaved lilly pilly, INSET: Australasian figbird (male), Bulimba.

A sunny afternoon spent in Bulimba last Thursday afternoon offered up some great encounters with a variety of reptiles, birds and insects.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Granite Belt brings winter charm

Jacky winter, Wallangarra.

A drive out to the Stanthorpe region with a friend on Wednesday provided me with my first ever sighting of an Australian bird icon, the jacky winter (Microeca fascinans).

Monday, 2 October 2017

Suburb Guide: Bilinga

Border patrol: rainbow bee-eaters use the Gold Coast Airport perimeter fence as a hunting perch.

Unless you are a southern Gold Coast local, you might barely know Bilinga. Driving along the Gold Coast Highway, it comes across as simply being a part of Tugun, and the beachfront is more widely known as North Kirra Beach. Even the Gold Coast Airport terminal, situated within Bilinga, is known by the alternate name of Coolangatta Airport! For those in the know, however, it is a small but quite beautiful part of the Gold Coast, with a gorgeous coastline in particular.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

A weekend in the Bunya Mountains

One of the many adorable locals on the Bunya Mountains.

It was my 34th birthday last month, and I celebrated it with a group of close friends out in the Bunya Mountains. I have only ever been to this place once before, as part of a weekend away with a birdwatching club when I was a teen. My memories of that experience are a little blurry with time, but I recall being enraptured by wallaby-packed hillsides, and an amazing sunrise.

The wallabies—red-necked wallabies, to be precise—made a big impression on me this time as well! They’re everywhere on the mountaintop, whether it be in the National Park, in public areas or on private lawns! They’re also common here on the outskirts of Brisbane and in the surrounding shires, but locally they tend to be shy animals that are usually seen alone or in small groups. I suspect that their abundance and approachability at the Bunyas is a result of many generations of wallabies living there peacefully, with little to no hunting pressure or harassment from humans and dogs, so that the only thing they have to fear are the occasional droughts that reduce their food supply.

We saw the wallabies as we drove into the mountain township on the Friday night, quietly feeding along the roadside verges. I was already in full ‘wildlife mode’ because further down the range, we had seen an echidna ambling out into the path of our vehicle. Luckily my friend Leah is an alert fauna-friendly driver who avoided a collision, and she then turned the car around and insisted I get out for a better look. 

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Plunkett Regional Park: A Photographic Collection

Encompassing a landscape quite unlike any other in South-east Queensland, Plunkett Regional Park is somewhere local nature enthusiasts should know.

The landscape of Plunkett features a variety of sandstone outcrops, boulder formations, cliffs and caves.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Suburb Guide: Alexandra Hills

A male Australian king-parrot (Alisterus scapularis) surveys his surrounds in Greater Glider Conservation Area.

So much of Redland City’s appeal lies in its foreshores. Check the #redlandsanyday tag on Instagram, and you’ll see what I mean—stunning photo after stunning photo of the tranquil waters surrounding Straddie, the bay islands and the stretch of coast from Thorneside in the north to Redland Bay in the south. One of the best kept secrets of the region, however, is the wealth of beautiful wilderness areas found inland from the coast, where even on a weekend, the crowds can usually be escaped. It’s not just the larger reserves and National Parks of places like Mount Cotton that are worth checking out either—even Alexandra Hills, the most heavily-populated suburb in the region, has environmental treasure aplenty!

Monday, 12 June 2017

Peaceful morning among the piccabeen palms

Piccabeen palms, Mount Tamborine.

Last Thursday, I braved a cold early morning to head up into Mount Tamborine and spend some time with the rainforest plants.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

A big day of birdwatching in Toowoomba

Brown cuckoo-dove (Macropygia phasianella), Redwood.
Last Saturday, I took part in a ‘Global Big Day’ held by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and their birdwatching website, ‘eBird’.

For the uninitiated, a ‘big day’ (or month, year, etc) is a birdwatching colloquialism that refers to the act of finding as many birds as possible within the designated timeframe, something which I had not partaken in before.

I decided that I would try find 100 bird species or more out in Toowoomba, a place I have never visited.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

There be dragons on Plunkett's sandstone!

Tommy roundhead, Cedar Creek.

On Good Friday, I hiked with some friends up into the rugged sandstone country of Plunkett Regional Park, a beauty of a reserve found at the southern end of Logan.

Joseph’s Coat moths (Agarista agricola), flowering slug herbs (Murdannia graminea) and a common bronzewing (Phaps chalcoptera) all made for enjoyable sights, but the highlight was a tiny dragon that crossed our paths on one of the more elevated trails.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Suburb Guide: Annerley

Norman Creek, as it passes to the south of Arnwood Place.

Just under three square kilometres in size, Annerley might be a small inner-suburb of Brisbane, but it is rich in wildlife nevertheless. This is largely due to the life-sustaining qualities of Norman Creek flowing through the eastern extremity of the suburb—elsewhere, with Ipswich Road splitting the area right down the middle, urbanisation has taken its toll.

Featured areas: (1) Arnwood Place, (2) Lagonda Park,
(3) Suburban Annerley, (4) Fanny Street Park, and
(5) Ekibin Park South; Image courtesy of Google Maps.
Situated just a short distance away from the Brisbane River, Annerley sits upon soils derived from sedimentary rock, and would have been cloaked in a mix of dry and wet eucalypt forest before it was cleared for dairy farming; the vegetation along Norman Creek would have been particularly dense, being home to a mix of littoral rainforest species. This latter ecosystem would have been an especially rich hunting and foraging ground for a small Indigenous camp that lived in the area where the Arnwood Place childcare centre sits today.

In the present day, the green spaces in the suburb are quite limited, but this hasn’t stopped a dedicated bushcare community from restoring these areas into impressive revegetation sites teeming with wildlife, some of which are looked at below.

Monday, 27 February 2017

The verdict is in: Maleny meet-up a hoot!

Southern boobook; Photo by Matteo Grilli.

A group of six nature enthusiasts joined me for a walk around Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve last Sunday, where we were met with a wonderful array of wildlife, plants and fungi.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Summer birds flock to the Sunshine Coast

White-faced heron (Egretta novaeholandiae), Burpengary East.

With the exceedingly hot start we’ve had to 2017, I’ve spent most of my “wildlife time” searching either for frogs in the comparative cool of the night, or in the water looking at fish. This week, however, a slightly cooler, unstable air mass swept in, and I decided to make the most of it with a full day of birding north of Brisbane.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Wild BNE summer meet-up: Maleny

Some of the plants and trees in the reserveincluding this wonga vine (Pandorea pandorana)are ancient.

Boardwalk section.
In the heat of summer, one of the best places to escape the sun is the rainforest. With this in mind, I’ll be hosting the Wild BNE summer meet-up at Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve in Maleny at the end of this month, where we can have great wildlife sightings and not melt into a puddle of sweat! 😎

Flying-fox camp.
It will be an early start to maximise the wildlife sightings, of which we can expect plenty. Mary Cairncross is a great place for mammal viewing, and we will be spending time with red-legged pademelons (Thylogale stigmatica) and black flying-foxes (Pteropus alecto) in particular. Rainforest birds abound—over 100 species of birds have been recorded in the reserve! Some that I am hoping to see include the Australian king-parrot (Alisterus scapularis), noisy pitta (Pitta versicolor) and russet-tailed thrush (Zoothera heinei). The more eyes, the better, so come along and spot something you’ve never seen before!

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Jumping for joy: Springbrook's frogs thrill onlookers

Red-eyed tree frog, Springbrook.

Last Sunday evening, I headed up into the Gold Coast hinterland to attend a frog-spotting walk organised by Ceris Ash of the Springbrook Wildlife Appreciation Group.

Meeting at the Springbrook Community Hall at 7:15pm, I joined a lovely group of people led by Adam Maund, a local wildlife expert and talented photographer, who found a great selection of stunning frogs for us to admire.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Suburb Guide: Boondall

The swamp oak forest in the Boondall Wetlands is a place of great beauty and peace.

Featured areas: (1) Brisbane Entertainment Centre, (2) Boondall
Wetlands Reserve, (3) Suburban Boondall, and (4) Frank
Sleeman Park; Image courtesy of Google Maps.
Home to Brisbane’s largest wetlands, Boondall is a suburb that should be familiar to any South-east Queensland nature enthusiast. Located 15 kilometres north of the Brisbane CBD, the suburb is positioned on a flat coastal floodplain bound by a number of estuarine waterways, including the lower reaches of Cabbage Tree Creek in the north, and Nundah Creek in the east. Over the years, Boondall has grown from a quiet little community into a busy residential area that is home to almost 10,000 people. Sandgate Road and the Gateway Motorway cut through the suburb, each coming to a standstill during peak hour as traffic flows in and out of the city. This urban pressure has had a noticeable effect on the wildlife of the area, and roadkill is a common sight along the edges of the Gateway Motorway (M1) where it adjoins the Boondall Wetlands. 

Prior to urbanisation, much of the area was farmed or was owned and left as unused land by the Catholic Church. Before this, however, the land belonged to the Turrbal people for many thousands of years. The landscape would have likely been quite similar to what exists in the Boondall Wetlands today, with food aplenty found in the coastal forests and estuaries.

Alongside the wetlands themselves, a number of interesting natural areas still exist in Boondall, explored further below.